Apr 16, 2015

Ikko Japanese Restaurant - Opens for Lunch Too!

Ikko is one of the well-known sushi joints in Orange County. However, this place seems to get more positive feedback for their hot dishes compared to sashimi and sushi.

Dinner service can be packed and reservation is highly recommended. Good news is that Ikko also opens for lunch from Tuesday to Friday offering sushi, a la carte, and even lunch set at a bargained price. 

Small restaurant with counter seating and a few table settings -

Asahi -

Take a look at the menu (click on the image for an enlarged view) -

Sushi menu and lunch special -

Rolls and nigiri are also available -

Noodles and sashimi bowls -

So many options to choose from -

Chirashi sets -

Even miso soup comes in five different varieties - 

Sake -

Salad that comes with the lunch set -

Bamboo shoot and fennel salad with herb flower and kimone dressing $10 -

Bamboo shoot provides a clean crunchy bite to the salad. Unlike western croutons or crisp bacon that carry a little grease, the non-oily and juicy bamboo shoot gives this salad a refreshing texture.

Uni chawamushi -

Sakura salmon cheek with spicy relish on top -

Kobe beef hambagu with miso demi-glace sauce lunch set $9.75 -

The set also comes with salad, miso soup, and pickled vegetables.

It's actually smaller than I expected but the sauce was seasoned well with a hint of peppery spice, goes really well with white rice -

I think ikko used leaner part of the Kobe beef -

Assorted sashimi lunch with pork and mixed vegetable miso soup, small appetizer, and rice $13.75 - 

Veggie lovers, this is one healthy and satisfying combo. 

Here is comes the nigiri -

Flying squid from Kyushu, Amberjack from Kyushu, yellowtail -

Not complaining at all, I was already happy enough to have Japan imported seafood for my weekday lunch.

Special chirashi set, comes with salad, miso soup, and pickles $25 -

Decent lunch place if you want to indulge a little during weekdays or weighing your options for a company meal. In addition, most of the better sushi restaurants only open for dinner, so ikko might be one of the very few non-Americanized Japanese eateries available around the area. Lucky OC dwellers.

Cindy's rating: 7 (higher score for ikko's non-sushi dishes)

Ikko Japanese Restaurant
735 Baker Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 556-7822

*Saturday and Sunday dinner only
*Closed on Monday

Apr 8, 2015

Pickled Small Gai Choy and Ground Pork Stir Fry - 雪裡紅炒豬肉

Pickled small gai choy or pickled cabbage is a simple preserved food using salt. The process of making it is fairly easy with little time involved. Basically clean the leafy greens and dry well. Rub with salt and squeeze out the liquid, let the veggie sits overnight and there you have it.

Gently rinse the pickled veggie, soak for few minutes, pat dry, and give it a fine chop before cooking. I also added some tofu skin for extra nutrients in this stir fry recipe.

Pickled small gai choy and ground pork stir fry -


  • 1 lb of ground pork
  • 1 cup/250 grams of pickled small gai choy
  • 1 big piece of fried tofu skin (the thick kind)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 red chilies
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of oyster sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon of chili sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt


Use just a tiny bit of olive oil to "massage" the ground pork if using lean meat, this will help the pork stays tender during the cooking process.

Remove the pickled small gai choy from the packet -

Rinse gently, soak for few minutes to remove excess salt, pat dry, and chop into smaller pieces.

Peel and finely chop the garlic. Discard the chili stems and finely chop the remaining. Chop the tofu skin into tiny pieces -

Drizzle some olive oil to evenly coat the bottom of the pan and turn to medium heat. Add in the garlic, chilies, and some salt. Cook till the garlicky aroma comes out but not burning them.

Switch to medium high heat and add in the ground pork, give it a quick stir. Pour in some oyster sauce for a touch of sweetness flavor, this can also be substitute with small amount of brown sugar. Add in some chili sauce if desired. 

Wait till the pork is about 80% cooked through then add in chopped pickled small gai choy and tofu skin. Mix well and cook till all the liquid has been reduced, about 2 more minutes.

Some people use sugar to balance off pickled veggies' acidity. However, I think the extra flavors from the semi-sweet oyster sauce can give more depth to this recipe. You be the judge.

Other Asian stir fry recipe:

Cauliflower and broccoli stir fry
PB salmon and veggies stir fry
Spicy stir fry with thick cut Matsuzaka pork and salted black beans
Simple Chinese stir fry using bamboo shoots and asparagus
Stir fry bamboo shoot cubes with marinated pork belly
Lamb stir fry with jalapeño, bean sprouts, and leek
Spicy chicken stir fry with salted black beans

Apr 4, 2015

Weekend Brunch? Try Rotisserie Chicken with Kiwi Salsa Ciabatta Sandwich

Making sandwich is always a good way to "revitalize" the leftover rotisserie chicken in the fridge. However, instead of pair the meat with lettuce and tomato slices, how about giving this simple kiwi salsa a try?

Rotisserie chicken with kiwi salsa ciabatta sandwich?

Ingredients (for two)?

  • 2 plain ciabatta 
  • 1 chicken thigh steak
  • 4 cheese squares 
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • Some olive oil
  • Some salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 big ripe tomato
  • 2 half ripe kiwi 
  • 1/3 onion
  • 3 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking dish with foil for easy cleaning purpose. Keep the butter in room temperature or warm it up slightly in the oven, till the butter softens and easy to brush on ciabatta.

Use bone-in chicken skin-on thigh steak, that way the chicken gets more flavor and juicier after baking in the oven. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Drizzle just a little bit of olive oil on top.

Transfer the chicken steak onto prepared baking dish and into the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes. Once cooked through, remove from heat and let it rest till cool enough to handle by hand. Remove skin and bone, break the meat into larger bite size pieces and set aside for later use. Leftover rotisserie turkey also works well for this recipe, just heat it up in the oven using lower heat or steam for 5 minutes before use.

Remove the stem and seeds from the tomato and chop into tiny cubes. Scoop out the kiwi and chop into tiny cubes. Do not use fully ripe kiwi, otherwise it'll be too soft to handle. Peel and cube the onion. Finely chop the cilantro. 

Put the cubed kiwi on the side first and mix all the remaining salsa ingredients in a bowl, including salt, pepper, and juice of half lemon. Kiwi gets mushy easily so add to the salsa mixture in the end and blend gently.

Slice the ciabatta in half, lengthwise. Brush one side of the ciabatta with melted butter. Lay two cheese squares on the other half of the bread. I used Emmental since it was left in the fridge. However, saltier Cheddar should work really well with this recipe.

Transfer the ciabatta onto a baking dish and into a medium/high heat oven. Toast the ciabatta till it turns slightly crunchy on the edges.

To assemble, use the ciabatta with cheese as bottom layer. Put some rotisserie chicken, scoop kiwi salsa over, and top with the other half of the ciabatta.

Leftover kiwi salsa can be stored in the fridge up to few days. Try grill some pork chops and serve with kiwi salsa. Make sure to bring out a bottle of spicy sauce to add more kick to the grilled meat!   

Other sandwich recipe:

Open faced sandwich with mayonnaise shrimp and avocado
Open faced sandwich with fish floss, avocado, and Cheddar cheese square 
Grilled cheese with homemade salsa
Brioche burger with seared tuna and Sriracha uni sauce
Japanese style corn and ham sandwich
Japanese egg salad sandwich topped with smoked salmon (tamago sando)
Turkey burger with two cheeses, sunny side up egg, baby greens, and broiled tomatoes
Smoked ham sandwich with aioli and Parmigiano Reggiano
Rotisserie chicken, strawberry, and ricotta croissant sandwich